The provincial government has announced its purchase of Woodwynn Farms – a 78-hectare Central Saanich property that originally housed homeless people to prepare them for life off of the streets.
According to a release, the Farms will now be used as a “therapeutic-recovery community” and provide support and educational programs to people living in off-site supportive housing. The property itself will not be used as a shelter.
“The purchase of Woodwynn Farms means we can provide more services for people living in supportive housing who will benefit from access to extended therapeutic care,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This type of support is proven to increase people’s ability to maintain their housing, and eventually move on to independent living.”
A long term plan for the property will be drafted by BC Housing, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the District of Central Saanich.
Currently the vision is to organize a support system for people experiencing mental health challenges and substance abuse issues by providing them with organic work experience on the farms and a community to form meaningful connections with.
Brief history of Woodwynn Farms
In December 2017, residents at the Woodwynn Farms rehabilitation facility woke up to see “No Occupancy” signs posted on their doors.
The notices were posted by Central Saanich authorities, who cited electrical issues as one of the reasons for not approving the location of the organization.
This prompted a widespread backlash from residents, volunteers, and members of the public at large who believed in the work being done at the farm and protested against the authorities that wished to shut it down.
For example, Michelle Beaubien, a former volunteer at Woodwynn Farms was so moved by the imminent closure of the facility, that she decided to write a heartfelt, descriptive open letter to the B.C. Premier John Horgan. Click here to read it.
However despite these efforts, organizers had to shut down and sell the property after the Agricultural Land Commission denied a proposal to build 40 units of temporary housing for patients.
It will now be operated by the provincial government through BC Housing.